Emigration from the United States

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A woman with a child in her stroller crossing the border into Canada illegally, hoping to win asylum status

Emigration from the United States is a complex demographic process where individuals born in the United States move to live in other countries. The process is the reverse of the immigration to the United States. The United States does not keep track of emigration, and counts of Americans abroad are thus only available courtesy of statistics kept by the destination countries.


  • Economic reasons (e.g. inexpensive housing in Mexico[1])
  • Family reasons (most common with recent immigrants or permanent residents)
  • Marriage to a foreigner
  • Business opportunities (e.g. American corporations in the Persian Gulf, India and East Asia)
  • Religious reasons (e.g. Jewish migration to Israel)
  • Political disenchantment/issues
  • Access to benefits and health reasons (see Universal health care)
  • Evasion of legal liabilities (e.g. crimes, taxes, loans, etc.)
  • Wanting to experience a new culture
  • Individuals living in a diaspora in the United States wanting to go back to their original homelands
  • Safety concerns
  • Loss of rights due to having a felony
  • Men avoiding to do military service or fighting wars (pre-1973)

According to a Gallup poll from January 2019, 40 percent of women under the age of 30 would like to leave the United States.[2]

Net effect

The United States is a net immigration country, meaning more people are arriving to the U.S. than leaving it. There is a scarcity of official records in this domain.[3] Given the high dynamics of the emigration-prone groups, emigration from the United States remains indiscernible from temporary country leave.


As of June 2016, the State department's consular section estimated that there are 9 million non-military U.S. citizens living abroad,[4][5] an increase from the 4 million estimated in 1999.[6] However, these numbers are often disputed as being underestimated.[7]

One reasonably "hard" indicator of the US citizens' population overseas is offered by the fact that often when they have a child born to them abroad, they obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad from a US consulate as a proof of the child's U.S. citizenship. The Bureau of Consular Affairs reports issuing 503,585 such documents over the decade 2000–2009. Based on this, and on some assumptions about the family composition and birth rates, some authors estimate the US civilian population overseas as between 3.6 and 4.3 million.[8]

Sizes of certain subsets of US citizens living abroad can be estimated based on statistics published by the Internal Revenue Service. US citizens are generally liable for US income tax even if they reside overseas; however, if they receive earned income (wages, salaries, etc.) while residing in a foreign country, they can exclude an amount of foreign earned income from the US taxation or receive credit for foreign taxes paid. The IRS reported that almost 335,000 tax returns with such a foreign-earned income exclusion form were received in 2006.[9] This imposes a lower (and very imprecise) bound on the number of US citizens who were living and working in foreign countries at the time.

In the same tax year, almost 969,000 US taxpayers reported having paid foreign tax on "general limitation income" (i.e., income other than interest, dividends, and other "passive income") from foreign sources on their foreign tax credit forms.[9] Of course, not all of these were actually residing abroad full-time.


Americans can only lose their citizenship in a very limited number of ways, and anyone born to at least one American parent, or born on American soil, is considered to be an American citizen. It is not automatic for a child born abroad to one American parent to obtain US citizenship if the American parent has been living abroad for a long time.[10]

Few Americans living abroad renounce their citizenship, with the long-term trend being in the low-hundreds per year; this changed, however, after the United States government passed Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, requiring foreign banks to report information on American depositholders with bank accounts located outside of USA. Almost 3,000 Americans renounced their citizenship in 2013 alone, many citing the new disclosure laws and difficulty in finding banks willing to engage in said reporting.[11]

US citizens living abroad

The list below is of the main countries hosting American populations. Those shown first with exact counts are enumerations of Americans who have immigrated to those countries and are legally resident there, does not include those who were born there to one or two American parents, does not necessarily include those born in the US to parents temporarily in the US and moved with parents by right of citizenship rather than immigration, and does not necessarily include temporary expatriates. In all other cases, starting with Israel, the figures are estimates of part-time US resident Americans and expatriates alike.

  1.  Mexico – 899,311 United States-born residents of Mexico (2017)[12]
  2.  European Union – 800,000 (2013; all EU countries combined)
  3.  Canada – 738,203 (2011)[13]
  4.  India – 700,000 according to a press release from the White House on 12/06/2017[14]
  5.  Philippines – 600,000 (2015)[15]
  6. Israel Israel – 185,000[citation needed]
  7.  Italy – 170,000 to 200,000[citation needed]
  8.  United Kingdom – 158,000 (2013)[16]
  9.  South Korea – 140,222 (2016)[17][18]
  10.  Germany – 107,755 (2013)[19]
  11.  France – 100,619 (2008)[20]
  12.  Brazil – 98,000 up to 350,000
  13.  Australia – 90,100 (2011)[21]
  14.  Japan – 88,000 (2011)[22]
  15.  Dominican Republic – 82,000[citation needed]
  16.  China – 71,493 (2010, Mainland China only)[23][24])
  17.  Spain – 63,362[citation needed]
  18.  Colombia – 60,000[25]
  19.  Hong Kong – 60,000[24]
  20.  Pakistan – 52,486[26]
  21.  United Arab Emirates – 40,000[citation needed]
  22.  Republic of China (Taiwan) – 38,000
  23.  Belgium – 36,000[citation needed]
  24.  Saudi Arabia – 36,000[citation needed]
  25.   Switzerland – 32,000[citation needed]
  26.  Poland – 31,000 to 60,000[citation needed]
  27.  Lebanon – 25,000[27]
  28.  Panama – 25,000[28]
  29.  Netherlands – 20,769 (2019)[29]
  30.  New Zealand – 17,748 (2006)[30]
  31.  Sweden – 16,555 (2009)[31]
  32.  Austria – 15,000[citation needed]
  33.  Hungary – 15,000[citation needed]
  34.  Singapore – 15,000[24]
  35.  Ireland – 12,475 (2006)[32]
  36.  Argentina – 10,552[citation needed]
  37.  Peru — 10,409 (2017)[33]
  38.  Chile – 10,000[citation needed]
  39.  Denmark – 9,634 (2018)[34]
  40.  Czech Republic – 9,510 (2019; 7,131 have residence permit for 12+ months)[35]
  41.  Costa Rica – 9,128[36] to 50,000[37]
  42.  Norway – 8,013 (2012)[38]
  43.  Malaysia – 8,000[24]
  44.  Ecuador – 7,500[citation needed]
  45.  Guatemala – 5,417 (2010)[39]
  46.  Uruguay – 3,000[40]
  47.  Portugal – 2,228 (2008)[41]
  48.  Russia – at least 2,008[42] up to 6,200[43]

See also


  1. ^ http://unstats.un.org/unsd/Demographic/meetings/egm/migrationegm06/DOC%2019%20ILO.pdf
  2. ^ Editors, The (2019-01-14). "Record Numbers of Americans Want to Leave the U.S." Gallup. Retrieved 2019-10-07.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ http://unstats.un.org/unsd/Demographic/meetings/egm/migrationegm06/DOC%2019%20ILO.pdf#page=2
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-06-16. Retrieved 2017-01-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ American Overseas Network Archived April 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ http://unstats.un.org/unsd/Demographic/meetings/egm/migrationegm06/DOC%2019%20ILO.pdf#page=4
  7. ^ Bill Masterson (2000), How Many Americans Really Live in Mexico? And Who Cares, Anyway?, peoplesguide.com
  8. ^ These are our Numbers: Civilian Americans Overseas and Voter Turnout Archived 2013-10-24 at the Wayback Machine, By Dr. Claire M. Smith (Originally published: OVF Research Newsletter, vol. 2, issue 4 (Aug), 2010)
  9. ^ a b "Individual Foreign-Earned Income and Foreign Tax Credit, 2006], pp. 54 (overall number), 57 (geographical distribution), 84 (foreign tax credit) at [https://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats---Individual-Foreign-Earned-Income-Foreign-Tax-Credit SOI Tax Stats - Individual Foreign Earned Income/Foreign Tax Credit" (PDF). Retrieved 12 August 2017. External link in |title= (help)]
  10. ^ Birthright citizenship in the United States#Children born overseas to married parents
  11. ^ "Why More Americans Are Renouncing U.S. Citizenship". Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Table 1: Total migrant stock at mid-year by origin and by major area, region, country or area of destination, 2017". United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  13. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables – Citizenship (5), Place of Birth (236), Immigrant Status and Period of Immigration (11), Age Groups (10) and Sex (3) for the Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National Household Survey". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Fact Sheet: The United States and India — Prosperity Through Partnership". White House. 26 June 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Why the Philippines Is America's Forgotten Colony". Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  16. ^ 2013 - Office for National Statistics
  17. ^ "U.S. Citizen Services". Embassy of the United States Seoul, Korea. United States Department of State. Archived from the original on November 30, 2012. Retrieved December 11, 2012. This website is updated daily and should be your primary resource when applying for a passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, notarization, or any of the other services we offer to the estimated 120,000 U.S. citizens traveling, living, and working in Korea.
    "North Korea propaganda video depicts invasion of South Korea, US hostage taking". Advertiser. Agence France-Presse. March 22, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2013. According to official immigration figures, South Korea has an American population of more than 130,000 civilians and 28,000 troops.
  18. ^ No. of Foreign Nationals Residing in Korea Exceeds 2 Mil. in 2016 No-of-foreign-nationals-residing-in-korea-exceeds-2-mil-in-2016 (The Korea Economic Daily)
  19. ^ https://www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/Bevoelkerung/MigrationIntegration/AuslaendBevoelkerung2010200137004.pdf?__blob=publicationFile
  20. ^ "Résultats de la recherche - Insee". insee.fr. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  21. ^ [1]. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2011. Last accessed 22 July 2014.
  22. ^ (http://www.japanmattersforamerica.org/2011/05/census-counts-japanese-in-us/)
  23. ^ 2010 Chinese Census (from Wikipedia article Demographics of the People's Republic of China)
  24. ^ a b c d "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Colombia (03/28/13)". Previous Editions of Hong Kong Background Note. United States Department of State. 28 March 2013. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2013. Based on Colombian statistics, an estimated 60,000 U.S. citizens reside in Colombia and 280,000 U.S. citizens travel, study and do business in Colombia each year.
  26. ^ Gishkori, Zahid (30 July 2015). "Karachi has witnessed 43% decrease in target killing: Nisar". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 3 August 2017. As many as 116,308 Afghan nationals are living as immigrants in the country, higher than any other country,” Nisar told the House. Besides Afghans, 52,486 Americans, 79,447 British citizens and 17,320 Canadians are residing in the country, the interior minister added.
  27. ^ see List of countries with foreign nationals in Lebanon
  28. ^ U.S. Relations With Panama
  29. ^ "CBS StatLine". statline.cbs.nl. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  30. ^ 2006 Census, Statistics New Zealand Archived July 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ http://www.scb.se/statistik/_publikationer/BE0101_2009A01_BR_03_BE0110TAB.pdf
  32. ^ File:NonnationalsIreland2006.png
  33. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática (October 2018). "Perú: Estadísticas de la Emigración Internacional de Peruanos e Inmigración de Extranjeros, 1990 – 2017" (PDF). Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM). Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores - RREE. 1: 85 – via Database.
  34. ^ "Statistikbanken". statistikbanken.dk. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  35. ^ Foreigners, total by citizenship as at 31 December 2018 1). Czech Statistical Office.
  36. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2010-01-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  37. ^ "Costa Rica". Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  38. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-06. Retrieved 2013-02-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ (in Spanish) Perfil Migratorio de Guatemala Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM) (2012)
  40. ^ "Immigration to Uruguay" (PDF) (in Spanish). INE. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  41. ^ "Statistics Portugal". ine.pt. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  42. ^ Russian Census (2002), Basic Result Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine: table 4.1. National composition of population, table 4.5. Population by citizenship, table 8.3. Population stayed temporarily on the territory of the Russian Federation by country of usual residence and purpose of arrival
  43. ^ Federal State Statistics Service, table 5.9. International Migration: in Russian, in English
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